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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2011 Sep;21(3):219-50.

What it takes to defend deceptive placebo use.

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Johns Hopkins University, USA.


A complete defense of deceptive placebo use must address this ethical objection: deceptive placebo use violates patient autonomy, because deceiving a patient about the placebo nature of a proposed treatment prevents her from giving informed consent to the treatment. Unfortunately, this objection isn't always recognized and clearly disambiguated from other ethical concerns. I consider how well several bioethicists who write about placebo use have responded to, or evaded, this objection. I conclude that defenders of deceptive placebo use should, following the lead of Onora O'Neill, argue that deceptive placebo use is compatible with informed consent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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